Wednesday, October 30, 2013


(Unedited sourced from

On the rare occasion that my parents would host a dinner party (my mum doesn’t like entertaining because “things get messy”) my mum would caution my dad to  “stay away from sex, politics and religion!” If she were inclined to host any dinner parties in 2013, she’d be wise add to that list “and food, for the love of God stay away from talking about food!” 

Who knew that food and nutrition could be the topic of such heated debate? If you’d have told me when I was a teenager that I’d be sitting around at dinner parties sagely discussing the ins and outs of what passes through our digestive systems, I would have scoffed in disbelief. Yet, here we are.

In fact, it would seem that food and diet is THAT much of a hot topic (hot, that is unless you’re a raw-foodarian or a fruitarian) that folk simply cannot agree to disagree.

I was reminded of this a few weeks when I went to a friend’s house for a braai. One of the moms was warming up her baby’s food. This was enough of a cue for another one of the moms (let’s call her “Perfecticia”) to launch into an ‘enlightening’. “Oh, I’m so glad you didn’t nuke it” Perfecticia quipped. I immediately wondered what she would have said if the other mom HAD chosen to nuke it? As I silently tallied up the thousands of things I’ve nuked in my life, I considered pointing out – in my defence so to speak – that our home-economics teacher DID, after all, tell us that nuking was both the most nutritional AND economical way of cooking. (True, she didn’t use the word NUKE, she said microwave, because it was the 80’s and people were more concerned with the size of their shoulder-pads than nutrition.)

Instead of adding my two cents, I immediately came down with a fierce attack of FOGI (Fear of Getting Involved) because I know from experience that these conversations have a way of luring you in, only to leave you with bad indigestion. Oh the irony!

Lets see, there was the time that BK and I got into a discussion about margarine vs. butter.  He’d been told that his cholesterol was a little high and that he should switch to “magic margarine” (it’s not really called that but I’m not allowed to say what it IS called or I’ll get sued.) I won’t tell who was batting for marg and who was batting for butter because that will only spark more fights in cyberspace, but what I will say is that things got THAT heated that Mr. PP has banned us from having the Margarine VS Butter discussion EVER AGAIN. To quote: “I don’t want you and Dad to talk about margarine and butter EVER AGAIN.”

Then there was the time that BK and I mentioned at a family dinner that we’d just read Tim Noakes’ book, ‘Challenging Beliefs’ (ehem, the clue is in the name). We expressed that we found it interesting - food for thought if you like. Well, things got uncomfortably animated – so much so that that we all imposed a silent, autonomous ban on ever discussing food ever again at family dinners. Does food wield enough power that even mentioning a high-fat-no-carbs diet can cause a family rift?

But back to the braai. After the nuking comment, I glanced at my tumbler of whiskey, furiously hoping that it looked like freshly squeezed apple juice. Little did I know that things weren’t going to rest at nuking. Perfecticia was on a roll and her next point of attack was …. honey. Apparently (I didn’t know this ~ the honey-Philistine person I am) unless honey is pure and raw and made through the efforts of tiny eunuch bees who journey to flowery pastures that are untouched by human hands to harvest virginal pollen from wild blossoms, honey is a no-go. ‘Fuckit’, I thought, ‘is this woman going to ruin EVERY food group for me?’ The next day I went to price some of this “holy-honey” and all I can say is it would be cheaper to buy a honey farm, redecorate it and host an enormous pool party, than buy 500ml of raw honey.

The alarming thing is, I actually used to consider myself healthy but nowadays, I just can’t compete. I can’t compete with lettuce grown in soil that is aerated by a million tiny Buddhist earthworms that chant as they go about their business. I can’t compete with raw vegetables washed in the tears of a thousand doves (peace doves, of course.) And whereas I’m happy to buy Himalayan crystal salt (more for the fun colour of it), I’m not entirely convinced that those cheeky little Himalayanese don’t cook up crappy store bought salt, add a touch of cochineal and laugh like drains as they rake the cash in at our expense. I mean who is to know it even comes from the Himalayas? And if it DOES come from the Himalayas, surely that makes it even worse? Won’t the Himalayas just cave in one day because all the salt has been removed from their inner cavities?

Although people like Perfecticia make it sound as though they’re colluding with you, blow me down if it doesn’t come across as more of a lecture. Food-snobbery in disguise. Don’t be fooled.  Not only is it a lecture, but it’s actually a kind of a boast. Which calls to mind dear old Gwynny Paltrow’s cookbook that suggests ingredients I’ve never even heard of, let alone can actually buy. And the ingredients I can get my hands on, cost as much as private schooling for all the children of a small country. Naturally (see what I did there---) this puts food into a WHOLE DIFFERENT LEAGUE.

And all I can say is my mom has no bloody idea how lucky she is to have been a meal-maker in an era when serving frozen veg to your kids was considered healthy, because truly, there is only so much insanity around food you can endure before you become completely insane yourself. Though for me, in truth, it may already be too late.

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